Stephen Walker remembers past president of the Finch and Parrot Club, Ken Banks.
Stephen Walker remembers past president of the Finch and Parrot Club, Ken Banks. Jann Houley

Friends of feather flock together

ROCKHAMPTON'S Finch and Parrot Social Club will dedicate its 11th annual sales show to past president Kenny Banks who passed away last year.

More than 40 breeders will set up tables of Australian and exotic birds and breeding pairs at the Showgrounds from 9am on Sunday, March 10.

"Kenny was a big bird man; he had a pair of blue and gold macaws, red-tailed black cockatoos, Major Mitchells, you name it," club member Stephen Walker said.

 

Ken Banks with two of his birds.
Ken Banks with two of his birds. Allan Reinikka ROK210216abirds1

He remembers when the club sales used to attract up to a thousand visitors.

"It's like any hobby, I guess; the younger generation doesn't tend to get involved so much now they're too busy playing games or on their phones."

"But it's a pasttime which can be as cheap or expensive as you want, with breeding pairs starting at just $5."

Mr Walker and fellow breeder Lance Wood share a love of the Gouldian finch, the spectacularly coloured Australia native.

 

Stephen Walker with his four-month old Rosa Bourke parrots
Stephen Walker with his four-month old Rosa Bourke parrots Jann Houley

Mr Wood said the Zebra, Bengalese and Gouldian finches are the most popular but he's recently taken an interest in the parrotlets.

"They're the smallest parrots in the world and very trainable," he said.

"In South America, they're called the 'pocket parrot' because people carry them about town to compare, sell and swap birds."

He sells breeding pairs of the parrotlets, which arrived in Australia about years ago, for upwards of $400.

 

Parrotlets or 'pocket parrots' are the smallest in the world
Parrotlets or 'pocket parrots' are the smallest in the world Jann Houley

"I remember when I was about 20 years old, I saved up a week's salary, about $60, for a pair of gouldians," Mr Wood said.

"If kids start up small and learn how to take care of the cheaper birds birds, they can sell them and save up for the dearer ones."

Meanwhile, Mr Walker has fallen for the Rosa Bourke parrot (Neopsephotus bourkii, formerly known as Neophema bourkii) which comes in dusky creams and pinks, and sell for about $25 each.

"A lot of people have the impression we just throw birds in cages and that's it," he said.

"The way I look at it, we're creating a backstop in numbers for species that are getting low in numbers out in the wild.

"It used to be people went out trapping birds for sale but you wouldn't do that now you can buy a pair from a reputable breeder."

 

Lance Wood and Stephen Walker in front of Mr Wood's aviaries
Lance Wood and Stephen Walker in front of Mr Wood's aviaries Jann Houley

The Rockhampton club expects to welcome visitors from as far as Brisbane and Townsville as avid breeders travel to exchange information and strengthen bloodlines.

Mr Walker, a retired police officer, and his wife have have travelled through the Pilbara and Kimberley to see native birds in the wild.

In June they will attend the Northern Aviary conference in Yungaburra near Atherton in northern Queensland.

Last year the club donated $500 towards conserving the golden shouldered parrot on properties in the Gulf country further north.

"There are property owners there who put out feeding stations in the dry season, high above the dingos and cats," Mr Wood said.

And what about this year's most talked about species, the black-throated finch?

"I can remember when there were black-throated finches around this area but they seem to have withdrawn into shrinking pockets around Townsville and out west," Mr Walker said.

"We're not radical greenies but you look back and think 'Well, they'll build a mine and it'll last for a couple of years and then it'll close'.

"But the birds...once they're gone, they're gone for good."



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